South Australian electricity consumers likely to be offered new ‘smart’ power meters — but at a price

A GOVERNMENT discussion paper outlines plans to offer “smart” electricity meters across the state — but they could cost up to $500 per household.

Such meters have been rolled out in other states, but South Australia has delayed such a program because of an estimated state-wide cost of $1 billion.

The Energy Department has not yet decided who will pay for the meters, but experts say consumers will carry the cost because electricity assets had been privatised.

“Of course, the customer always pays,’’ said Uniting Communities electricity expert Mark Henley.

The State Government’s draft plan to offer smart meters to householders on a voluntary basis has been released for public comment. While it does not clearly state who will cover the cost of the meters, it provides an opt-out for customers who do not wish to pay.

It also outlines options to offset the “cost” to consumers.

Mr Henley said a compulsory rollout in Victoria cost $1000 for each meter, but falling costs meant experts now estimated the price to be between $300 and $400.

“The minimum cost would be about $250, but the other issue is retiring the old meters, and they are owned by SA Power Networks (formerly ETSA), and they would want to be paid out for the value of current meters which SAPN owns … up to another $250, depending on age of meter and SAPN valuation of existing meter cost.”

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said about 30,000 new or replacement electricity meters were installed each year.

Under the Government’s proposal, all new meters would be “smart-ready” unless the customer opted out.

A “smart-ready” meter is a step up from current technology and can be upgraded at a later time to operate as a “smart” meter by installing an electronic chip, similar to a SIM card in a mobile phone.

This enables the householder to take advantage of new products and services as they become available, such as monthly billing, online information and real-time data.

Mr Koutsantonis said the Government estimated a “smart-ready” meter would cost between $40 and $60 more than a regular meter.

“We want to give South Australians a choice, so under this proposal households can opt out and have a regular meter installed or have a smart-ready meter, yet choose not to take up the smart meter products and services,” he said.

“What we want to do is create a market for smart meters, which have the potential to save South Australians up to $200 a year on electricity bills when they select innovative products and services.”

South Australian Council of Social Service director Ross Womersley said there was no guarantee the cost of installation to householders would be matched by savings.

“SACOSS accepts that advanced metering offers a range of benefits, but is disappointed that the discussion paper does not provide any quantitative information in this regard,’’ he said.

“SACOSS is concerned that the costs of implementation have the potential to overwhelm the value of these benefits for the consumers of most interest to SACOSS.

“Asserting that a policy is ‘cost effective’ without demonstrating it to be so is not an approach that SACOSS prefers.’’

An Energy Department spokesman said the proposal “provides that all new and replacement meters for residential and small business customers will be smart-ready meters, unless a residential or small business … customer elects not to receive one’’.

Mr Womersley said if smart meter installation followed that of meters which had to be used for solar PV conversions, there would be a considerable cost to the consumer.

“SA Power Networks has been the monopoly provider of some 150,000 of these meters over recent years but SACOSS and others have observed that the price of meter replacement did not seem to reflect expected economies of scale and has only recently fallen to $314.60 from $440 for the majority of these installations,’’ he said.

“It is unclear if these meters really are ‘owned’ by customers despite having seemingly paid for them.”

MILES KEMP AND LAUREN NOVAK, THE ADVERTISER

Via:South Australian electricity consumers likely to be offered new ‘smart’ power meters — but at a price

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MEDIA RELEASE – VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S SMART METER HEALTH AUDIT

17th April 2014

MEDIA RELEASE

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S SMART METER HEALTH AUDIT

Stop Smart Meters Australia (SSMA) welcomes Mr Russell Northe MP to his new portfolio and trusts that his appointment as Minister for Energy and Resources will bring with it a reality check on a number of unresolved issues in relation to the Victorian Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) rollout.

SSMA formally incorporated as an Association in April 2013, in response to the community’s objections to the Victorian AMI rollout. Paramount within our legal purposes is to provide support and assistance to people opposed to the forced rollout of smart meters on the grounds of health, privacy, security, safety and cost.

Ms Janobai Smith, Spokesperson for SSMA, said:
“Stop Smart Meters Australia takes exception to the inequity of the current AMI rollout policy, having made no provision for the reinstatement of analogue or interval-only meters, in cases where consumers are suffering health effects as a result of wireless smart meter emissions. We believe it is imperative this issue be urgently addressed.”

“We were heartened that an independent audit, to determine whether there are any health risks associated with smart meters, was announced by Mr Northe’s predecessor earlier this year. However, the Victorian Government has failed to advise Victorians who will be conducting the audit, and what the time frame is for it.”

“SSMA believes that the scope of this audit should be extended beyond that of earlier investigations which, patently, have suffered from serious systemic faults. As a concerned community group, we would appreciate the opportunity to have input into this process” commented Ms Smith.

The aim of the AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey, commissioned by the Victorian Government in 2011, was to determine if emissions from smart meters met the relevant ARPANSA standard. As its authors acknowledged, the ARPANSA standard is only designed to protect from heat injury and does not take into account other biological effects. A number of scientific studies have shown that non-thermal effects can and do lead to highly undesirable health outcomes. In SSMA’s opinion, seeking to confirm that smart meter emissions met the current ARPANSA standard, whilst ignoring non-thermal effects, was a waste of taxpayers’ funds.

Similarly, although Energy Safe Victoria’s 2012 report into safety was titled ‘Safety of Advanced Metering Infrastructure in Victoria’, ESV abrogated its responsibilities in regards to health concerns by stating that potential health effects was the subject of separate regulatory arrangements administered by ACMA, which incorporates ARPANSA’s exposure limits and that they had also been subject to a Victorian Government review (i.e. the aforementioned AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey).

Ms Smith states,
“We believe that it is vital that the audit seriously considers why so many Victorians and people elsewhere claim to have developed symptoms, or to have had existing symptoms exacerbated, as a result of the rollout of wireless advanced metering infrastructure. As a minimum, we believe that Victorians who have claimed adverse health effects as a result of smart meters should be interviewed. Written evidence submitted to the UK Parliament in 2012 attested to the fact that the pulsed radiation from smart meters has resulted in thousands of health complaints world-wide. More than 10,000 health-related complaints were submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission alone, and included personal testimonies from medical doctors, psychotherapists and nurses regarding their own symptoms. The costs to government, within this unfolding drama, are real.”

Ms Smith continues
“SSMA is pleased that the government recognizes the importance of ensuring the audit be conducted by an independent organization. SSMA believes that, in order to ensure the audit’s credibility, it is imperative that the personnel concerned have no vested interest in the outcome. As an example, although the AMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey has been described as an independent report, there appears to be a close link between industry and one of its chief authors.”

“Clearly, as the matter at issue involves current and potential future health risks to the Victorian population, all personnel tasked with preparing the audit must necessarily have relevant medical qualifications with respect to non-ionizing radiation.”

“SSMA is concerned that the scope of the audit be sufficiently broad to encompass all areas of concern in relation to health. Unfortunately, AMI technology has been rolled out worldwide prior to the undertaking of any studies relating to safety. Specifically, we ask that the audit extend to considering biological testing that seeks to establish whether smart meter emissions cause effects such as breaches of the blood/brain barrier, selective release of calcium from cell membranes, DNA single and double strand breaks and nerve cell death. Additionally, do these effects vary within the population? For example, regulatory bodies in a number of countries are increasingly concerned with the effects of radiofrequency radiation on children” said Ms Smith.

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Electricity company plunges Cheltenham pair into darkness after smart meter removed due to health fears

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A WOMAN who illegally removed her smart meter because she believed it was making her sick has been living in the dark for the past six weeks after her power was cut off.

United Energy cut off Sofia Telemzouguer’s power for “health and safety” reasons after learning she had replaced the meter with an analog version.

But in what United Energy is calling a “unique and sensitive case”, it says it continues to work with her to resolve the situation.

She said she has been in a year-long battle with the energy provider after they installed the unit at her Cheltenham home without her consent in March last year.

But in October, Ms Telemzouguer, who says she has been diagnosed with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, removed the smart meter after she claimed it gave her headaches and caused severe skin irritation.

She started to feel better but contacted United Energy in February with an inquiry.

She said soon after, her power was cut off without any correspondence and she and her 14-year-old daughter Larissa were now living in darkness.

“I have to throw out any perishable food if we don’t eat it immediately and my daughter has to study by candlelight,” Ms Telemzouguer said.

“It’s very stressful (and) I don’t know what to do ‒ wherever I go it’s a stone wall.”

But United Energy spokesman Stuart Allott said, with the Energy and Water Ombudsman, they had been working with Ms Telemzouguer for months after she told them of her health concerns.

He said they tested the radiofrequency exposure limit, which was “well below” safe levels and offered to lower it further but that had been so far been rejected.

He said in February, they requested a meter inspection due to the inability to read it remotely and after finding out the meter was illegally removed, a defect notice was issued and an inquiry launched by Energy Safe Victoria.

“Due to health and safety concerns, supply was disconnected,” Mr Allott said.

He said the company had tried to reconnect the supply since March, but Ms Telemzouguer refused the installation of “our now standard digital meter”.

He said it was State Government policy that smart meters were the standard meters and they continued to work with the Ombudsman to resolve the issue.

EMR Australia director Lyn McLean, whose company produces shielding for electromagnetic radiation, said she received many calls from Melbourne residents wanting to shield themselves from smart meters.

She said her company often installed shielding, including special paint, fabric and window film which could eliminate 99 percent of all the radiation from the meter without impeding its function.

Troels Sommerville, Moorabbin Kingston Leader, April 16

Via:http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/south-east/electricity-company-plunges-cheltenham-pair-into-darkness-after-smart-meter-removed-due-to-health-fears/story-fngnvmhm-1226885309126

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“The facts expose the safety standards are inadequate” – Dr James McCaughan, University of Sydney

Dr James B. McCaughan, Honorary Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, University of Sydney, writes an account about electrosensitivity and the inadequacies of the current safety standards in Australia.

The account is made available via the WiFi in Schools Website http://www.wifi-in-schools-australia.org/p/resources.html and directly from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1KQ639Tc1Z9WTl4RG5oSjRRS0k/edit?pli=1

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People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters party to contest the next state election | Herald Sun Leader

THE growing movement against the compulsory rollout of smart meters in Victoria has sparked a new political party.

The People Power Victoria — No Smart Meters was started last week and spokesman Marc Florio said it was growing fast.

“We have 250 members join within a week of publicising it. We need 500 members to be registered and we will get that no problems,” Mr Florio said.

He said the party was formed because there was a growing concern about how the public was being treated by corporations, major parties and state government departments.

“The major parties don’t seem to be listening to the public about the problems out there. They don’t care about the issues — and in particular the rising cost of smart meters,” Mr Florio said.

“The party is a focal point for voters who are frustrated by the lack of action by politicians.”

The party is centred on opposition to the rollout of wireless smart meters for electricity, gas and water and aims to get fair and affordable delivery of essential services.

Mr Florio said the party would contest the state election in November.

For more information go to peoplepowervictoria.org.au

Kylie Adoranti

Via: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/new-political-party-the-people-power-victoria-no-smart-meters-and-spokesman-marc-florio-says-they-want-to-contest-state-election/story-fnglekhp-1226879744841

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People Power Victoria – an overwhelming response!

Within one week of promoting the formation of our political party People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters, we are already nearly halfway to our minimum target of 500 members.

If everyone who has joined PPV enlisted one more person to apply for membership, we will reach our goal within two weeks – surely this would be unprecedented in the formation of a grass-roots Victorian political party!

But of course we would like even more than 500 members!

Thank you everyone for your support, and because of this overwhelming response, please be patient as our volunteers register your membership and acknowledge your kind donations.

Let’s continue to spread the word and keep the momentum going……

Membership forms can be downloaded at: http://www.peoplepowervictoria.org.au/uploads/files/PPV%20Membership%20form.pdf

Or completed online at: http://www.peoplepowervictoria.org.au/membership

Related post: http://stopsmartmeters.com.au/2014/03/28/people-power-victoria-no-smart-meters-the-emergence-of-a-new-political-party/

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Petition to reconnect Sofia’s power

Stop Smart Meters Australia has created a petition for Sofia to have her power reconnected with a manual read interval meter. Please help Sofia’s cause by clicking on the link below and sign to register your support:

https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/hon-dr-denis-napthine-allow-sofia-s-electricity-supply-to-be-reconnected-with-a-manually-read-interval-meter-mrim#

Sofia’s smart meter story: a life ruined, a future denied
Upon returning from an interstate business trip, Sofia’s health started to mysteriously and rapidly decline. Sofia could no longer sleep, her vision suddenly deteriorated, she had constant headaches, nausea, irritability, fatigue and short term memory loss. An acute, burning rash all over her body and swollen legs eventually led to hospitalization.
This was a stark turn of events for a woman still in her prime, who had been healthy and had enjoyed an exciting, busy life as a full time worker and sole parent of a teenage daughter.

Sofia and her doctors discovered the horrible coincidence – all her symptoms had started after a wireless smart meter had been installed inside a cavity in her bedroom wall, against her wishes and without her knowledge whilst she was away from home.

Now Sofia is on a Disability Pension, too sick to work and struggling to look after herself and her 14 year old daughter.

After months of unendurable physical suffering and pleading with her power distributor, United Energy, and government agencies, this Victorian mother had only one option – to take things into her own hands and have the smart meter removed from her home. Soon after, her health started to improve and she still continued to pay the estimated electricity bills she received.

On the 3rd March 2014, without warning or written notification, Sofia’s power was cut off. Appeals United Energy), Energy Safe Victoria, the Victorian Energy Ombudsman, the Victorian Energy Minister, local politicians and others have only resulted in stone walling and doors shut in her face. No one wants to help, no one wants to accept the grim reality facing this distraught mother and daughter.

Since the disconnection occurred, Sofia and her daughter have had to live without:
-Electric lights. She and her daughter have been using candles and a torch for light
-A refrigerator/freezer. All food has to be purchased daily and consumed that day.
-The ability to use a washing machine to launder clothing
-The use of a laptop computer to allow her daughter to complete her schoolwork
-Any heating for her home, particularly as the weather turns colder with winter approaching

Sofia has been told that, unless she accepts a smart meter on her house, she will not be supplied with electricity. Her power distributor refuses to return her safe, non-wireless meter. For this situation to be allowed to occur in Melbourne “the world’s most liveable city” is an indictment upon the Victorian Government. While others in her neighbourhood are permitted to retain their analogue meter, not Sofia. This is clear discrimination!

Such behaviour is a denial of an essential service and therefore the denial of a basic human right – especially as Sofia’s electricity account is fully paid up!
Governments are supposed to represent the people who elect their representatives and not BIG business; however it appears from the punitive treatment being meted out to people like Sofia that the Victorian Government is actively working against the welfare of vulnerable Victorians in our communities.

It is because of these tragic developments in Sofia’s situation that we are appealing to you to sign this petition. Let’s hope this forces the Victorian Premier (Denis Napthine) and his new Energy Minister (Russell Northe) to back down from the government’s punitive measures against Sofia and her daughter. Please help Sofia get her old, safe meter back, and the power switched on.

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Related post: http://stopsmartmeters.com.au/2014/03/26/sofias-story-punitive-power-and-the-smart-meter-tyranny/

Posted in Smart Meter | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

The Great Meter Con – Recent letters in The Age

Get smart
David Lamb’s (Letters, 27/3) and David Laird’s (31/3) smart meter problems are small beer. Since my smart meter was installed, my supplier has billed all my electricity at the peak rate despite most of it being used in off-peak hours (for water heating on a dedicated circuit). Previously, this was billed at off-peak rates. Incompetence or a scam? Presumably tens of thousands of others are also affected – many unknowingly.
Brewis Atkinson, Nunawading

Via: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/why-should-those-hurting-share-the-pain-20140402-35yrt.html

Get with the times
I can add to David Lamb’s concerns about smart meters (Letters, 27/3). Since its installation nearly two years ago my smart meter has registered readings for off peak and peak usage, as well as calculating my solar exports to the grid.
However, it has not been smart enough to match Victorian summer time with the time shown on the meter clock. Real Victorian time has been one hour ahead of meter time, which creates problems for anyone trying to use power at off-peak times. Energy Australia customer relations staff, when they eventually understood my complaint, simply suggest that it ”balances out”. In other words, stop stirring the pot. ”Just another example of corporate con”, to quote David Lamb?
David Laird, Forest Hill

Via: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/a-white-male-of-means-will-no-doubt-decide-20140330-35s3y.html

The great meter con
I have two smart meters at my home. One is for peak electricity supply and the other is for off-peak electricity. In the two years since they were installed, the only benefit I can see is that the electricity retailer saves money by not having to send someone to check my use.
I thought the purpose of smart meters was to enable energy providers to charge a high use rate at times of high energy demand and a lower rate at times when surplus energy was available. Silly me. Just another example of corporate con.
David Lamb, Kew East

Via http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/please-dont-return-us-to-the-dark-days-20140326-35ip8.html

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Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy & the ‘Wireless Revolution’ documentary

Cinema2014AprPublicExposureOhMy

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PEOPLE POWER VICTORIA – NO SMART METERS: The emergence of a new political party

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Stop Smart Meters Australia is launching a new political party for Victoria, with a charter centred on opposition to the mandated roll-out of wireless smart meters for electricity, gas and water, and on the commitment to re-establish a healthy environment for all.

The People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters party (PPV) also stands for fair and affordable delivery of essential services to all Victorians, respect for Human Rights and a safer, more ethical use of technology.

Victorian politicians of both Houses of Parliament are ignoring our concerns, happily leaving their constituents vulnerable to the whims of private corporations. Perusing this website alone, you will find countless examples of injustice enforced upon everyday Victorians, and essentially, our politicians simply DO NOT CARE. It is time now to play their game and create a new political force.

The community’s experience with rising essential services’ costs and disregard of customers’ rights and wellbeing is epitomised by the incompetent and aggressive roll-out of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (smart meters) program in Victoria. This program is just one example of a broader frustration for voters who expect laws and processes that recognise and protect human and democratic rights of Victorians. This new Party aims to ensure laws and processes are properly introduced and implemented, and have as their aim genuine protection for all Victorians.

PPV will provide a focal point for voters who are frustrated by the lack of political action and feel strongly that much more needs to be done through our parliamentary system to protect the human and democratic rights of Victorians.

Our mission is to reclaim our state and set it on a new and better path.

We have a vision of a caring and compassionate society, where individuals and families have the freedom to be masters of their own lives and homes, and where every Victorian is given the opportunity to prosper and thrive.

This is your chance to have a voice, to reclaim your rights, your home, your state and to change the course of history.

We cannot do it without you. Please complete a membership form and encourage everyone over the age of 18 in your family and friendship circle to do the same. Applicants have to be enrolled to vote in Victoria. Party membership is FREE, and a membership form can be completed online or downloaded at: http://www.peoplepowervictoria.org.au/

We need at least 500 members to register our party, so spread the word!

To enable us to run in the forthcoming Victorian election, we are hoping to gain 500 members within the next six weeks.

Thank you. It is only together that we can make a difference!

Posted in Smart Meter | Tagged , , | 76 Comments